PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he is “disgusted” that his remarks in response to the call to boycott French products had been misrepresented and taken out of context.
In a statement, Mahathir, who has come under heavy criticisms from social media users around the world, as well as diplomats in Malaysia, said his critics only highlighted one part of his statement to imply he was promoting the massacre of the French.
He was referring to a portion of a paragraph in his blog post which read: “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.”
“Because of the spin and out-of-context presentation by those who picked up my posting, reports were made against me and I am accused of promoting violence,” Mahathir said today.
Mahathir said had his critics read his full posting, they would see the following sentence: “But by and large the Muslims have not applied the ‘eye for an eye’ law. Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead, the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings.”
He said the misrepresentation of his remarks had led to Facebook and Twitter asking him to remove the postings on his social media pages.
Despite attempts to explain the context of the posting, Mahathir said they were removed even though he felt the social media giants should have allowed him to defend his position as “purveyors of freedom of speech”.
“But that is what freedom of speech is to them. On the one hand, they defended those who chose to display offending caricatures of Prophet Muhammad and expect all Muslims to swallow it in the name of freedom of speech and expression.
“On the other, they deleted deliberately (the sentence) that Muslims had never sought revenge for the injustice against them in the past.”
He said even his appeal that the French should explain the need to advise their people to be sensitive and respect the beliefs of other people was left out.
“What is promoted by these reactions to my article is to stir French hatred for Muslims.”
Calls to boycott French products came in response to statements on Islam made by President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron’s comments last week came in response to the beheading of Samuel Paty at his school in a suburb outside Paris earlier this month, after he had shown caricatures of Prophet Muhammad during a class he was leading on free speech.